Rangers tennis trying to sort lineupAugust 9, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
FERDINAND — Forest Park boys tennis coach made it known his team is in a rebuild mode. It was tough for their program to have lost No. 1 singles Nathan Jarboe and No. 2 singles player Wes Stout to graduation, but he’s expecting a good year from his doubles teams.
“I think we’re going to come on strong at both doubles positions,” Blessinger said. “The conference last year was loaded at one doubles, and so (sophomore) Carter (Fleck) and (junior) Bryson (Partenheimer) faced some awfully good doubles — and held their own. And I think they take a step forward this year.”
The question, though, is if they’ll be paired with each other again, or if they’ll be in a different part of the lineup. The Rangers have no seniors, and one person Blessinger mentioned as a No. 1 singles candidate was junior Landen Marks, who played in the No. 3 singles last year.
Blessinger didn’t rule out having Marks at No. 1 singles or No. 1 doubles, perhaps a mixture of the two. He feels Marks is up to the task, but said it was also a matter of Marks deciding which one he likes better.
“He saw the work and preparation by Nathan Jarboe ahead of him,” he said. “And he knows what it takes. I think he’s kind of looking at that challenge of what he wants to take on.”
If Marks played doubles, Fleck would most likely play No. 2 doubles, giving the Rangers a formidable doubles combination. Sophomore Kris Fuhrman won’t be back, as he’s focusing for when wrestling season comes, but Blessinger said Furhman is welcome to change his mind.
Junior Conner Tretter played in the No. 2 doubles spot with Fuhrman last year. He told of the chemistry Partenheimer and Marks have by playing sports together throughout the years, though Partenheimer has good chemistry with Fleck.
And if need be, Fleck can play singles. Blessinger noted the Rangers might be young when it comes to singles. They’ll be experimenting with all sorts of lineups early in the season before settling on one later on.
“If Landen drops and plays one doubles, Carter’s going to have to play a few matches at singles for me and vice versa,” Blessinger said.
Blessinger is also high on his four freshmen: Brock Schuler, Elijah Brosmer, Aiden Nord and Korbyn Persohn.
“I’m not so sure that one of them might not get a taste at one singles before the season’s over,” he said.
He raved about all four of them as sound players already, and while they’re not perfect, he lauded them as “very strong ball strikers.” Blessinger noted that these four freshmen won’t beat themselves, that they make their opponents beat them. There’s an outside shot one of them will play at No. 1 singles, but having a freshman at No. 2 singles, and especially No. 3 singles, is a likelihood.
There will also be another dynamic to where the Rangers will look to for points this year. Forest Park relied on Jarboe, Stout and Marks to produce team wins last year because the Rangers weren’t as seasoned at doubles.
“Strangely, I think we completely flip this year,” Blessinger said. “We’re going to look at producing two points at doubles in most matches, and then we got to find a point at singles.”
The team’s season is set to open Aug. 17 at Loogootee.
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